GMA to review strike action on August 14

Dr Opoku Adusei  - GMA President
Dr Opoku Adusei – GMA President

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) on Wednesday said it would review the ongoing strike situation at an Extraordinary General Assembly of members on Friday, August 14, 2015.

It said the Association was mindful of the various developments, including appeals by various groups and called on its members to remain calm and steadfast in the turbulent situation.

A statement signed by GMA President, Dr Opoku Adusei and General Secretary, Dr Frank Serebour, copied to the Ghana News Agency, said the on-going media war and propaganda launched by the Government did not add value to the negotiations.

The statement said in the opinion of the GMA, that path would only lead to the inflammation of passions and rather worsen the situation, and boost the determination of the GMA to press home its demand for a proper negotiated and signed Conditions of Service.

“Members of the GMA in the public sector have not had any documented Conditions of Service (COS) since the inception of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in 1996.

The various benefits currently enjoyed by members, including two weeks of free mortuary services, are as a result of administrative directives, Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and other discretionary offers from the employer, the statement argued.

“These are varied at will, without recourse to the employees,” it maintained.

“The process of developing COS document for doctors began over 10 years ago, and has never been concluded, because successive Governments prefer to operate a system where we cannot point, or hold them to any single document as constituting the COS for our members”.

The GMA said after several years of unsuccessful negotiations, the General Assembly of the GMA issued an ultimatum in November 2014 (“November Ultimatum”), with several subsequent reminders to the effect that if COS document is not signed before 30th of June, 2015, the GMA will put into motion series of actions that may disturb the industrial peace in the health sector.

The statement said following the November ultimatum, in April 2015, a team was put together by government to draft a framework for negotiation for COS for the entire health sector.

The team finished their work at the end of May 2015, and the Framework was supposed to guide all unions within the health sector on their proposals for negotiations.

The GMA submitted its proposal at a joint negotiation committee (comprising 16 members from the government team and 10 members from the GMA). The ground rules for the Committee were signed between the parties on the 28th of June, 2015.

In response to this progress, the GMA called for an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting on the 29th of June 2015, to review its deadline.

The General Assembly agreed to shift its ultimatum to the 29th of July 2015, in other to give room for negotiations to continue.

As part of the ground rules, both parties were prohibited from making public, any document from the negotiation table.

“It was against this background of utmost good faith that the GMA submitted its proposals”.

The GMA said throughout the process of negotiations it became apparent that the Government team was not properly mandated and they could not take any decisions.

“Indeed, the Chairmanship position of the government team has never been stable and kept on changing from time to time.

“It must be said that it was only on the day that the roadmap as stipulated by the GMA was supposed to come into force that the government team showed some signs of seriousness with the negotiations.

The GMA therefore had no option than to roll out the roadmap on the 29th of July 2015, when no COS document had been negotiated and signed as was demanded by the General Assembly of the GMA.”

The GMA statement said as soon as the roadmap was put into motion, the government resorted to propaganda “with the aim of turning/swaying public opinion against the doctors despite the fact that it was the government that had not shown good faith at the negotiation table.”

It added that as part of the government propaganda machinery, some proposals that the GMA had put before it at the negotiation table was leaked to the press, a clear violation of the ground rules that were signed between the parties.

“Subsequently, several altered and fallacious documents were released into the public to make it appear as if government was making concessions and that it was the GMA that was being recalcitrant”.

“It must be noted that, government on several occasions had put positions on the negotiation table only to come back and withdraw them when it had been agreed by both parties”, it stated.

Negotiations ended abruptly on Sunday, August 9, 2015, when government put forward a take-it-or-leave-it proposal to the GMA which contained worse proposals compared to government’s previous proposals to the Association, the statement further indicated.

The GMA said it became clear that government had taken an entrenched position and was not ready to find solutions to the impasse but rather was counting on its propaganda machinery as a way out of the situation.

Meanwhile, the GMA engaged the Ghana Health Service Council and on two occasions had meetings with the Parliamentary Select Committee of Health with the aim of making progress with the negotiations.

On the release of the 14 house officers from the Techiman Holy Family Hospital,  the GMA condemned the recent phenomenon where heads of training institutions at the least provocation threatened and or released house officers to the Medical and Dental Council for reposting.

“This act amounts to intimidation and an infringement on the rights of house officers to participate in trade union activities, a right which is enshrined in the Labour Act 651”, it said.

The GMA admonished all health facilities to stop the practice with immediate effect, adding “The GMA will not hesitate to bring its full force to bear on such institutions that perpetrate such inferior tactics on its members. The GMA may in future advice its members not to serve in such institutions if it becomes necessary”.

The GMA reminded all and sundry that ultimately the current action, no matter how difficult, was aimed at finding long-term solutions to labour issues and improve the efficiency and quality care in the health sector.

Source: GNA

1 Comment
  1. julia says

    The government is used to playing politics and propaganda so much that they have distorted the truth, maltreated medical doctors and have turned the public against doctors, has government been able to state what they are ready to offer doctors? Have they offered them something which they have turned down? Wicked and evil leaders

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